I haven’t exactly been a fan of Texas since I flew to Houston three years ago and failed my sommelier exam by wobbling the wineglasses and forgetting every brand of Vouvray ever during the service test, but I take it all back today, freshly home from a few days in Fredricksburg with a lovely group of friends, old and new.

Here are my top five Texas favorites post-trip.

5. Wearing cowboy boots to a dance hall in Luckenbach, seeing everyone else wearing cowboy boots, and knowing that they wear them all the time and not just because they happen to be in style right now. (See Edie’s blog for our group’s selection of boots.) Also watching the adorable older couple dancing like they’ve been doing it their whole lives.

4. Sitting around the fire and in the living room painting nails and talking about why it’s so great to be Lutheran.

3. Going to a wine tasting and being forbidden from going backwards on the “dry to sweet” scale by the militant German woman working in the tasting room. Icing on the cake: hearing her yell at some unassuming old ladies because they dared to snack on a wine cracker. Double chocolate icing on the cake: leaving mid-tasting, going to another winery, and finding out that Militant German Lady’s reputation had preceded us.

2. Finding Dogfish Head 60-minute IPA at the grocery store, which we don’t get in Tennessee. It’s exactly as good as everyone says it is.

1. Coming home to my sweet family and knowing I was missed for more than just being chief cook and laundry-washer, but because I’m wife and mom. And realizing how awesome it is to have my in-laws here to love on my kids while I’m gone.

I wish I had photos, but there was no point in taking bad pictures with my cell phone when we had three professional photographers in the group. I’m counting on them putting posts up post-haste and letting me steal them. Jan? Heather? Edie? We need some photojournalism stat.